Crawley Wasps’ 100 per cent start to the new season ended with a 3-1 home defeat by Watford – only their second league loss in two and a half years.
After a goalless first hour, Watford struck twice in short order at East Grinstead to take control and although Ellie Russell got Wasps back into it, the visitors settled matters late on.
Newly promoted Wasps had won their first four games in the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division, and still sit top of the third tier despite this defeat.
They started promisingly, with Rebecca Carter denied by a sprawling save from Watford’s former Brighton keeper Nina Wilson, while Charlotte Owen lashed narrowly wide.
At the other end, Wasps keeper Frankie Gibbs – named player of the match by sponsors Sub-Cool FM – made a fine stop to keep out Megan Chandler, and Andrea Carid later hit the post.
Gibbs also did brilliantly early in the second half to deny Adekite Fatuga-Dada, but she was beaten on the hour mark when the same player broke the offside trap to convert from Ryah Vyse’s pass.
Watford doubled the lead on 69 minutes as a corner was headed back across goal for Anne Meiwald to head into an empty net.
Wasps pulled a goal back when Naomi Cole’s free kick caused problems for keeper Wilson, who could only drop it on to the head of Russell.
But the Hornets restored their two-goal lead, Gibbs’ goal kick intercepted by Ocean Rolandsen, who played the ball forward for Leanne Bell and her squared ball was swept in by Katie O’Leary.
Wasps manager Paul Walker said: “I think in most areas Watford had the edge and were worthy winners. There’s some good sides in this league and teams will take points off each other.
“We’ve just come off the back of five consecutive wins in all competitions, the most important thing is how we pick ourselves up against Keynsham next week.”
Wasps: Gibbs; Nash, Russell, Drury, Palmer; Cole, Fleischman (Stow 53); Stephens (Ledezma-Viso 72), Owen, Rabson; Carter (Webber 39). Sub not used: Graves.